Why We Have Daylight Saving Time
Published: Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 10:03
WASHINGTON — You could say daylight saving was created for you! Almost 50 years ago, Congress said that one benefit of daylight saving is "more daylight outdoor playtime for the children." Come this Sunday, you'll have enough daylight (we hope!) to finish your homework and to play catch outside!
Every state except Hawaii and most of Arizona will move clocks ahead one hour. It's known as "springing forward." (Get it? In the spring, we spring forward and in the fall, when daylight saving ends and we move our clocks back an hour, we fall back.) By losing an hour of sleep this weekend, you will gain more hours of sunlight. Some studies show that this saves energy, because you don't have to turn on your lights until later. It also is said to reduce crime.
In 1784, Benjamin Franklin calculated that shopkeepers could save money on candles (which they used then for light) if people reset their clocks. During World War I, Germany began daylight saving time to conserve fuel. In 1918, the United States started observing it, too. It was so unpopular, though, that after the war, Congress repealed (or canceled) the law.
Congress passed a daylight saving law again during World War II. After that, it started to catch on. But one problem was that not all states observed it at the same time. (What if Maryland was springing forward this weekend and Virginia was springing forward next month? How would you schedule your first baseball game?)
So in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act. The law gives states the option of practicing daylight saving. All the states that do it, though, have to do it on the same dates.
Those dates have changed through the years. In 2005, Congress moved the start date up three weeks and moved the end date back one week, adding an entire month to daylight saving — and saving energy. That, however, may not apply to you, with all the energy you will spend playing outside in the extra daylight.